White House Down review

When the White House is overrun by terrorists, it falls on the shoulders of one man to keep the president safe from harm… Hold on a minute. Doesn't this all sound rather familiar?

Yes, for reasons known only to itself, 2013 was the year that Hollywood decided to give us not one, but two 'Die Hard in the White House' movies. And incredibly, despite the fact that White House Down stars Channing Tatum, was directed by 'master of disaster' Roland Emmerich and cost more than twice as much as rival production Olympus Has Fallen, this is the one that feels like a cheap imitation.

The main problem is that the script deflates any attempt at tension with a string of dumb gags that would have been more at home in some sort of Airplane-style genre spoof. A shame, as co-stars Tatum and Jamie Foxx have a surfeit of chemistry together and Emmerich still knows how to stage a spectacular action scene. 

Picture: Sony Pictures has served up yet another fantastic looking Blu-ray platter with this release. Sharpness and clarity are exquisite, giving the AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode a very clean and extremely well defined appearance (which doesn't necessarily do some of the lacklustre visual effects any favours). Colours are warm and inviting, shadows hold plenty of information and detailing is absolutely first-rate. Quite honestly, no matter how hard we looked, we couldn't find a single thing to criticise here. Put this on your 'reference' shelf.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: White House Down is the sort of film that blows up the Capitol Building (Chapter 5), stages a car chase around the North Lawn of the White House (Chapter 11) and eventually drops a helicopter gunship just outside the President's backdoor (Chapter 13). So it's no real surprise that it delivers the kind of DTS-HD MA 5.1 track guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of action-loving AV-hedz.

As you might expect, gunfire regularly rips across the soundstage with authority, explosions are always accompanied by a ferocious subwoofer rumble, and the sound of fighter planes screeching overhead can probably only be bettered by moving next door to RAF Scampton.

Incredibly, the track as a whole is also extremely well balanced. Dialogue is prioritised without sounding artificially lifted in the mix, and the orchestral score (by regular Emmerich collaborators Harald Kloser and Thomas Wander) is rich and dynamic.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: At first glance Sony's Blu-ray platter looks as if it's absolutely packed with extras, offering no less than 13 behind-the-scenes featurettes for you to choose from. But the fact that only one of them runs longer than the disc's six-minute gag reel (vaguely amusing) gives you an idea of how slight the majority of them actually are. Among the topics under discussion are the cast, building the Presidential limousine, stunts, weapons, visual effects, cinematography, what it's like working with Roland Emmerich and recreating the White House. Just don't expect to learn much.
Extras rating: 2/5

We say: As far as AV demo discs go this is a stunner, but the film itself is something of a letdown

White House Down, Sony Pictures, All-region BD, £25 Approx